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MRA urges Kano to abolish committee on media conduct

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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Kano State government to stop the formation of a committee to address alleged professional misconduct and abuse of privilege by media organisations, describing it as unwarranted.

The Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, stated yesterday that the initiative to regulate media conduct in the state violated regional and international norms on media freedom and freedom of expression, which are binding on Nigeria. Kano State Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, recently announced that the State Executive Council (SEC) had approved the setting up of a committee to address professional misconduct and abuse of privileges in the state.

Opposing the SEC’s approval, Longe said, “It would be incongruous and clearly unacceptable for the Kano State Government to arrogate to itself the power, right or authority to oversee how the media perform this constitutional duty conferred on it by Section 22 of the Constitution and, in particular, to determine whether media professionals are misconducting themselves in this regard and abusing their privileges, assuming that any such privilege exists.”He said MRA was not convinced that the government’s intentions were sincere or genuine, particularly in the light of the widespread perception in the state that the move was motivated by a desire to punish media organisations.

“A process such as the one embarked upon by the Kano State government presents an opportunity for the government to exercise control over independent and critical media. It puts journalists and media establishments, which are supposed to be holding the government accountable to the people, at the mercy of the government and, therefore, at risk.

“Equally important is the fact that it would put the important constitutional function of the media in jeopardy,” he stated.Longe advised that where media organisations or media professionals could be shown to have breached established professional codes of ethics and standards, or to have violated applicable laws, the government and other stakeholders should have recourse to existing laws and mechanisms in seeking redress.

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Ayode LongeMRA
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